Palette Places: Cassis

I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging, first by sharing some travel diaries of the holiday from where I last left off. After I came home to a cold and gray New York, I’ll admit a part of me was trying to avoid sorting through all the pictures I took on the trip. To remember how perfectly warm it was and to see that blue, blue water of the Côte d'Azur.  

The first stop on our road trip along France's southern coast was Cassis…


Cassis was the impetus of the trip as I had heard many wonderful things about it, particularly in the off-season of mid-September to early-October. Temperatures stay around 75°F during the day and then become light sweater temperature at night, which makes for the most pleasant beach days in this quiet little town.


After spending a day in Paris, we took the train to Marseille and from there, rented a car - I’ll have to do a separate post later on the lessons learned from road tripping in the South of France. Any minor obstacles on the road had been quickly forgotten as soon as the high hills of beautiful Cassis alongside the Mediterranean came into view.


This is what we saw in Cassis:


  • Plage du Bestouan, if only I could live nearby this small beach. Our hotel was directly across from Plage du Bestouan, which is the only beach in Cassis to have a Blue Flag Seal of approval for the quality of its clear blue water and environment. Its surroundings can’t be beat – the pebble beach is flanked by flat natural rocks for sunning on one side and the mansion that appears in the 1971 film The French Connection on the other. Straight ahead is the breathtaking Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliff in France. The perfect view of the colossal rock formation makes swimming in the water feel amazingly surreal.


  • Calanques boat ride, gives you the best views of all the Calanques -  narrow sea inlets carved into steep bone white limestone, that look like enormous castles rising from the sea.


  • Calanques hike, experiencing the Calanques on foot, with Calanque de Port-Miou and Calanque de Port-Pin. Wear proper hiking shoes and a swimsuit for the end prize of a lovely little beach at Calanque de Port-Pin.


  • The vineyards, wine from Château de Fontcreuse (where Virginia Woolf lived briefly) and Domaine du Paternel, which we ended up drinking throughout the trip even in other towns, especially the rosé.


  • The harbour, framed by the colorful buildings of the main village and a 14th-century castle perched high above. Walk through the little labyrinth of streets to find a cute market in the main square and plenty of restaurants to pick from for incredibly fresh local seafood (our favorite was on a small side street, Restaurant le Bonaparte).


After Cassis, it was on to Saint-Tropez…